Information was provided by the Wisconsin Restaurant Association hotline team, offering quick answers and simple solutions to member questions.
What happens when the new law goes into effect November 1, 2011?
Wisconsin becomes the 49th state to allow people to carry concealed weapons in most public places. The law allows private citizens to carry concealed weapons if they meet the following criteria:
- Must be 21 years of age or older.
- Must have passed a criminal background check.
- Must complete firearm safety training.
- Must obtain and maintain a CCW license to carry a concealed firearm.
What do I need to tell my employees?
Consider what makes the most sense for your business. Many employers are taking this time to create or evaluate their “weapons in the workplace policy.” Some business owners will want to prohibit all employees from carrying weapons while on the clock, while some business owners may choose to allow management level employees only to carry and others may chose not to impose any restrictions.
Employers who allow one or more employees to possess a weapon are given immunity from lawsuits for liability arising from that policy decision, but you’ll need to determine if the tradeoff for that liability protection is worth the potential risks of allowing employees to have weapons in the workplace.
Employers can’t prohibit an employee with a CCW license from storing a weapon in the employee’s own motor vehicle, even if the vehicle is used by the employee during work or is parked in the employer’s parking lot. However, you may be able to impose reasonable restrictions in your policy on how weapons are stored (securely kept out of sight if the employee is on duty).
What are the pros and cons of posting a sign at my business prohibiting customers from carrying a gun?
To post or not to post…it’s the question that a lot of members have been asking. It really is up to the business owner. WRA suggests getting a sense of your customers’ expectations. This may vary depending on your location and the demographics of your customers; what works on State Street in Madison might not be what works in Wisconsin’s Northwoods. WRA also suggests contacting your insurance carrier to see if they have any insights or guidelines to share with you.
Businesses that allow patrons with CCW permits to carry weapons (i.e. businesses that DO NOT post signs banning guns) are granted immunity from civil liability arising from that decision. Businesses that ban guns will not benefit from this provision of the law, but that does not necessarily mean these businesses will have increased exposure to risk. For businesses that post signs, the legal standards governing a firearm-related injury will remain the same as they were prior to the new law.
Businesses that do not post signs are afforded an additional level of protection from liability, as mentioned above, but exactly how much protection that is will be determined by state courts at some point in the future.
We know that this decision is causing stress for some members. You know your business better than anyone else, so it’s up to you to do what makes the most sense for you and the majority of your customers. Keep in mind that 48 states already have provisions for concealed carry; so while this is new to Wisconsin - it’s not a groundbreaking law. Violent crime and gun-related crimes have generally not increased in those other 48 states, and no state has ever repealed a concealed carry law.
If I post a sign, what are the requirements?
A sign must be posted in a prominent place near all of the entrances and where people entering the building or property can be expected to see the sign. The sign must be at least 5x7 inches. It can be printed on paper, in sticker/window cling form, or on a plaque – whatever best suits your needs. The language on the sign is not specified, but it must inform people that weapons or firearms are prohibited.
Where can I get a sign?
WRA has a basic sign which you may download for free. The sign is from the Members Only section of the WRA website, under the Posters and Forms link.
Where can I get more detailed information?
The Department of Justice has compiled an extensive list of Frequently Asked Questions.
WRA Members: for additional details and resources on this topic, get in touch with the hotline team.
Not a member? Contact WRA at 800-589-3211 to find out how you can stay informed with timely alerts and resources tailored specifically to foodservice operations.